Editorial: Thumbs up to CT creator of comic strip ‘Curtis’ winning top honor in field

A “Curtis” 9/11 comic strip by Stamford resident Ray Billingsley.

A “Curtis” 9/11 comic strip by Stamford resident Ray Billingsley.

King Features Syndicate

Thumbs up to Stamford resident Ray Billingsley winning the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society. Billingsley, creator of the comic strip “Curtis,” collected the industry’s highest honor Oct. 16, joining a group of past winners such as fellow longtime Stamfordites Mort Walker (“Beetle Bailey”), Alex Raymond (“Flash Gordon”) and Ernie Bushmiller (“Nancy”) as well as other legends such as Charles Shulz (“Peanuts”), Walt Kelly (“Pogo”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”). “This has been a huge step for me,” Billingsley said. “And also a monumental step for the NCS, because I’m the first Black guy to win the prestigious Reuben Award, and for that I am very grateful.”

Thumbs up to University of Connecticut football. The team didn’t make it easy, and the opponent wasn’t exactly a world beater, but the beleaguered UConn football team earned its first win in two years this past weekend with a victory over Yale. This is a team without a permanent coach, a conference or much in the way of state interest lately, which is what happens when you’re in the midst of a decade-long dry spell. But the players deserved a day to celebrate, and after coming close twice in recent weeks, finally held on for a much-needed notch in the win column. Up next is Middle Tennessee on Friday.

Thumbs up to a rise in availability for tele-health appointments. A necessity at the start of the COVID pandemic as many people were forced to stay home for safety, video visits to doctor’s offices became a staple of daily life over the past two years for many. Now more insurance plans are offering coverage of such remote visits, often at a discounted rate. There are downsides - there is no way to be as thorough over a video link than in person, for example, and crucial signs could be missed. But for routine appointments, including check-ins, there’s no reason people shouldn’t have the option to skip the drive and visit their doctor from home. It’s a step toward more available health care for all.

Thumbs down to a continuing possibility of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses. Scientists say a wetter-than-average summer has mosquito levels at their highest levels in 20 years, and are warning of three mosquito-borne illnesses that are most dangerous to humans in October after being passed from birds to mosquitoes over the summer. While Eastern equine encephalitis is rare, it can be deadly for those who catch it. Two other serious diseases, West Nile virus and Jamestown Canyon virus, can cause neurological or flu-like symptoms. With diagnosis difficult and cures yet to be found, all are best avoided if possible.

Thumbs up to a new federal effort to take on “forever chemicals.” The Biden administration on Monday announced that it would require chemical manufacturers to test and report the amount of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, contained in household items like tape, nonstick pans and stain-resistant furniture, in the first step toward reducing their presence in drinking water. Connecticut is well acquainted with PFAS via their presence in firefighting materials, a spill of which from Bradley Airport polluted the Farmington River in 2019. Any action to reduce the presence of these harmful substances is welcome.

Thumbs up to a bill a passed this year to create a task force to study the effects of psilocybin, the psychoactive substance in so-called “magic mushrooms.” Although mostly known as a recreational drug, psilocybin has been shown in some tests to bring real benefits for people suffering from an array of mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. That research has taken on new urgency as diagnoses of mental health problems continue to increase across the U.S. A task force is a long way from legalization, but it could be the first step toward offering real help to people in need.